WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
It’s movies like this that make you lose faith in the whole premise of film making. I mean, you want to believe that film makers are trying their best to put out high quality, original movies, and then this rather blatant Saw ripoff comes along and makes you question everything. Yeah, we all know that none of that’s true, but Elimination isn’t even subtle in what it’s trying to piggy back on. Granted, it has some of the cheapest CGI I’ve ever seen in a film and each and every actor could’ve easily been outperformed by a paperclip (which unintentionally gives it its entertainment value), but I spent my whole time sitting in front of the TV just waiting for someone to say “I want to play a game.” But I guess this is what you get from a movie that has unnecessary breasts thrown in front of the camera before the 1 minute mark has even been passed.
As I’m sure we’re all painfully aware, we live in the age of reality television, and the Good Lord knows that they’ll stick a camera in front of anyone and follow them around. Everyone wants to be famous, right? Well, so does our bunch of generic clichés (and there’s a lot of them – latino, latina, jock, bitch blonde, bitch blonde’s caring boyfriend, street thug, smart hot girl in a cardigan etc.). They’re all about to audition for a brand new online reality show called Spotlight. They don’t really know what it’s all about or where it’s being filmed, but there’s a $1 million dollar prize at the end of it for the winner, so I suppose the finer details might not be at the forefront of their tiny minds.
After getting together in a parking lot and meeting one of Spotlight‘s crew members, the gang is bundled into an unmarked van, stripped of their cellphones, drugged, and taken to an unknown location in the middle of the desert. None of them seem to find any of this particularly disconcerting, so they all make their way through to the audition room. Here they meet Jigsa… I mean the Executive Producer… via a live stream. He explains to them that the game they’re about to play might be a tad bit more extreme than they were planning on, and that it may or may not cater to an audience who likes watching snuff but doesn’t want to call it that. You see, Spotlight involves the gang running through various zones in an attempt to make it to the end. They’ll be pursued by a psychotic clown and an Amazonian warrior (who, again, has two breasts) who will try to brutally murder them. Since none of this is entirely above-board the kids can’t really back out on contractual technicalities, so it’s off into the labyrinth of doom for them.
Whilst the pseudo-Amazon and the clown provide some real-life threats, there are also stock dangers like machine guns, giant blades, giant furnaces and oversized food blenders to watch out for. To balance out the rather steep danger curve, the zones also have several hidden immunity statues, granting the holder 15 minutes where the clown and Amazon can’t kill them. Also, if a spotlight appears, anyone who stands in it is also safe from the executioners. But whilst the executioners and the oversized food blender are certainly areas of concern for the group, their greatest threat will be one another. Only one person can make it to the final zone and win the $1 million prize, so every clichéd character is going to underwhelmingly bring out their worst character traits in an attempt to make it out alive. If you’re like me, dear reader, by the time it comes to the final showdown, you too will be rooting for the oversized food blender.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It’s never a bad idea to give your cellphone to a creepy old man and climb into his unmarked van.
- Kids these days are incredibly whiny about being drugged and taken places against their will.
- It takes years of Tae Bo training to effectively kick a man in the balls.
- Research indicates that modern killers don’t really concern themselves with their victims’ comfort when building their killing contraptions.
- Rampaging murderers are easily thwarted by an empty cardboard box.
- Even murderers edit their footage to make their shows more dramatic and increase their ratings.
- Even psychotic executioners are part of a union.
- Psychotically deadly situations really bring out some people’s inner narcissist.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
There is no better feeling than that occasional time when I go into a movie thinking that it’s going to be awful and I walk away from it being pleasantly surprised. I’d read a few things about Smiley, none of them particularly good, but I found myself loving this movie for all the reasons that the critics panned it. Granted, I think it’s the kind of movie that only a child of the 90s can truly appreciate – it has the same kind of feeling that I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend and Scream had. Since those were the movies of my era, I thought Smiley was awesome for being able to capture that feeling, although I suspect it may fall a little bit flat with the kids of today. I would thoroughly recommend you watch this both for the 90s slasher vibe and for the fact that the whole movie is an elaborate tapestry of interwoven awkward moments that somehow come together to form a cohesive film. So many awkward moments, so little time…
Ah, college life. The beginning of adulthood where those years of toil and slog in high school finally pay off and you can begin to pursue a path of education that will help you become a productive member of society. Yeah, that was Ashley’s plan until approximately 3 minutes after she met her new housemate, Proxy, and then the training wheels came off in a big way. Proxy’s going to a party that’s been completely organised online by anonymous strangers, and she wants Ashley to go along. Ashley’s never done a bad thing in her life, or heard of a computer by the sounds of things, but she’s willing to give anything that good old college try. Drinkin’ them drinks and smokin’ that wacky tobacky…
At the little gathering is a small group of hackers, hacktivists, active hackers, hackers in training and a mild sprinkling of hipster hackers. From this group Ashley seems to learn her first urban legend – the one about Smiley. Now, Smiley’s a man who sowed his eyes shut and carved a smile into his face so he looks like a rather macabre emoticon. The legend is very similar to Bloody Mary, except this one involves the internet. If you go onto a video chat with a stranger, imagine Smiley killing them and type in ‘I did it for the lulz’ three times, Smiley will actually appear and commit the crime. But that’s just urban legend, right? Nobody actually believes this stuff do they?
Running with that thought, Ashley and Proxy decide to test it out and see what happens. After trolling the internet for the most revolting individual they can find, they tease him for a bit and then type in the fated words. Suddenly, a wild Smiley appears, uses knife stab and it’s super effective. This is understandably a little frightening for the girls, but how exactly do they go about reporting it to the police? It all seems a little bit strange, and it certainly doesn’t help that Ashley has a history of mental disorders. The only thing to possibly remedy this situation is more partying! But soon Smiley starts to break the rules of the game – instead of just going after people he’s sent to, he starts coming for those that did the sending, and Ashley needs to decide whether it’s her mind playing tricks on her or if something more sinister is at work.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- 12-year-old girls really shouldn’t be on sites where men take their pants off.
- Broadband has now reached a point where serial killers can download themselves into your house.
- Entire research teams are now looking into the intersection of the strange and the retarded.
- There’s about a 50/50 chance of either God or the Chupacabra actually being real.
- At some point all the internet’s evil is going to coalesce and manifest itself as a disfigured serial killer.
- There’s nothing quite like a roofied walk under the stars.
- Filing cabinets in academic institutions are there solely for the purpose of storing various types of booze.